About Bran Castle | The Spooky Castle of Transylvania
Bran Castle, positioned high atop a 200-foot-high rock and surrounded by an aura of mystery and folklore, owes its fame to its majestic towers and turrets as well as the mystique generated around Bram Stoker's Dracula. Bran fortress was first attested in an ordinance issued on November 19, 1377. Bran Castle boasts a commanding view of the charming village of Bran.
Bran Castle - Quick Facts
What is Bran Castle?
Between 1377 and 1388, Bran Castle was built atop a strategic location overlooking a widely frequented mountain route between Transylvania and Wallachia, the territory governed by Vlad the Impaler in the 15th century. By 1388, the castle was completed and was also used as a customs house for Transylvania, which was then a province of Hungary. In the early 15th century, King Sigismund of Hungary temporarily gave up the fortress to Prince Mircea the Old of Wallachia, a neighboring kingdom under threat from the Ottoman Turks.
The castle is owned by the descendants of Queen Marie, who received it in 1920 as a gift for her efforts to bring Romania together. Currently, Bran Castle serves as a museum dedicated primarily to the Romanian Queen Marie. The castle is also a famous venue for Halloween events, such as the 2016 competition to win a chance to spend a Halloween night at the castle, following the steps of Jonathan Harker from Bram Stoker's novel.
Why is Bran Castle so Famous?
Why is Bran Castle Called Count Dracula’s Castle?
Who Built Bran Castle?
The Hungarian King Louis the Great issued a decree on November 19, 1377, authorizing the citizens of Brasov the right to erect a castle. The Saxons of Transylvania were urged to participate in the construction of Bran Castle through this text. The construction of the castle was completed in 1388. The Castle was built on a cliff between Măgura and Dealul Cetăţii, with a spectacular view of the surrounding hills, Moeciu Valley, and Valea Bârsei.
Design of Bran Castle
The castle's exterior look varied over time, adjusting to the function it served, beginning as a wooden fortification built by the Teutonic Knights in the 13th century. The current structure, which is fashioned like an uneven rectangle, was built a century later. The round southern tower was built in the 17th century, followed by a square-shaped tower on the eastern side, both of which are still standing. The roof of the building, which is covered in red tiles and adds to its fairytale beauty, comes from the nineteenth century. The inside of Bran Castle was renovated, and Queen Marie, Romania's last queen consort and granddaughter of Queen Victoria, used several of the castle's 57 rooms.
History of Bran Castle
1377: The office of Hungarian King Louis I of Anjou issued a decree on November 19 authorizing the citizens of Brasov the right to erect a castle.
1388: The construction of the castle was completed in 1388. The Castle was built on a cliff overlooking Măgura and Dealul Cetăţii, with a spectacular view of the surrounding hills, Moeciu Valley, and Valea Bârsei.
1441: The Turks raided Transylvania, but they were repelled in Bran Castle by John Hunyadi.
1459: Vlad the Impaler set fire to the city's suburbs and slaughtered hundreds of Saxons from Transylvania, inciting the Saxon community to seek vengeance by characterizing the Voivode as a dictator and brutal in later reports.
1651: Brasov managed to sell the castle to George II Rackoczi on April 25, 1651, after extending the lease with the Princes of Transylvania multiple times – even after the Ottoman takeover of the Hungarian kingdom in 1541.
1836: After the border between Transylvania and Wallachia was moved to the highlands, at Pajura, in 1836, Bran Castle lost its military and commercial importance.
1886: Between 1883 and 1886, the imperial authorities consented to repair damage to the castle caused by the Revolution of 1848 and the Russo-Turkish war of 1877, at the request of the Brasov residents.
1920: On December 1st, 1920, the residents of Brasov offered the castle to Queen Maria of Romania through a majority decision of the municipal council, led by Mayor Karl Schnell.
1932: The Castle was converted into a royal summer house from 1920 to 1932, under the supervision of Czech architect Karen Liman, who also created the castles Peles and Pelisor.
1938: Bran Castle was bequeathed to Princess Ileana, who was married to Archduke Anton of Austria, after Queen Marie died on July 18.
1940: When Romania lost the South Danube provinces after the Vienna Award, Queen Marie's heart, which had been kept in the Stella Maris chapel of the Balchik's palace on the Black Sea, was moved to Bran in its sarcophagus.
1956: The communist rulers converted Bran Castle into a museum. The museum was divided into three sections: the Castle, which housed royal artifacts, the Medieval Customs, and Ethnography, which featured typical dwellings in the park adjoining the castle.
1993: The renovation of the castle, which began in 1987, was completed. The Castle was reopened as a museum and returned to the tourist circuit as a museum.
2006: The castle was legally returned to the heirs of Princess Ileana of Romania and Archduke Anton of Austria on May 18, after several years of legal proceedings.
What to See at Bran Castle?
The King and Queen’s Rooms
There are 57 rooms at Bran Castle and the rooms that were once occupied by King Ferdinand and Queen Marie still contain some of their belongings. King Ferdinand’s rooms are especially well-maintained and you can see his old furniture, armor and also a collection of daggers. You can also look at some of the items that Queen Marie used while she lived there.
It is said that King Vlad III was imprisoned and tortured here. The torture instruments present at Bran Castle add to its spooky vibe, and you can discover some of these tools on your visit as well. One particular highlight of these instruments is the torture chair covered with spikes all over its surface. There are also other tools like the iron maiden, the rack, and much more.
History of Dreads
Romania has many mythological stories about spirits, creatures and other beings that come out at night to torment the people living in and around Bran. The History of Dreads exhibit at Bran Castle sheds some light on some of these mythological creatures. Here, you can learn more about the Grim Reaper, the Strigoi, the Werewolf, the Iele, and many other such creatures.
Old Water Well
Bran Castle used to have an ancient water well in its courtyard that only functions as a decorative feature today. This well also used to have a secret chamber right above the water level that served as a hideout during invasions. When Queen Marie renovated the castle, she extended this secret chamber horizontally to run under the castle and attached an elevator to the tunnel for her to descend without the stairs.
Queen Marie’s Heart
Queen Marie considered Bran Castle to be her home. She loved the castle and the people around so much that she wanted to be buried in the castle gardens after her death. She also wished that her heart be extracted from her body and placed in a church on Black Sea Shore. Today, Queen Marie’s heart rests in a chapel built on a cliffside close to Bran Castle.
There is a narrow stone-carved staircase inside Bran Castle that once functioned as a secret passage during emergencies. It connects the first floor to the third and is built in such a way that only one person could fit through at a time. A fake fireplace concealed the entrance to this tunnel, which left it undiscovered for generations until Queen Marie decided to renovate the castle in 1920.
The Time Tunnel
A traditional well was dug into the stone while the fortification of Bran Castle was being erected. Then, in 1930, Queen Marie of Romania purchased the property, and she and architect Karel Liman decided to convert the well's shaft into an electric elevator. As a result, the horizontal gallery was dug to connect it to the Royal Park at the castle's foot. The two galleries were forgotten soon after the Royal Family left in 1948, and were overwhelmed by darkness and stillness.
A multi-disciplinary team created a part of the rock that has weathered the ages, observing historical events at the crossroads of cultures and nations, seventy years later. Today, the Time Tunnel thrives and develops as a result of human ingenuity and inventiveness in the field of technology. The Time Tunnel as a media presentation can be enlarged and adapted to new technologies in the future.
Plan Your Visit to Bran Castle
Book Your Bran Castle Tickets
Bran Castle on Screen
Movies: Gargoyle (2004), Dracula (2012), The Carpathian Castle (1981), The Truth About Dracula (2010)
TV Shows: Anthony Bourdain: No Reservations (2005–2012), Great Castles of Europe (1993–1994), Scariest Places on Earth - A Night in Dracula's Castle: The Transylvania Dare
Frequently Asked Questions About Bran Castle
A. Bran Castle is a fortress on the edge of a cliff in Transylvania, Romania. It has a spooky reputation for being the only castle in Transylvania that bears a few resemblances to the Dracula’s Castle in Bram Stoker’s novel, Dracula.
A. Yes, Bran Castle is now open for visits to the public.
A. Yes, you will have to buy tickets to enter and explore Bran Castle.
A. You can easily buy Bran Castle tickets online.
A. Bran Castle gained a lot of popularity after many fans drew the connection between Count Dracula’s castle in Dracula and Bran Castle. It also is a brilliant example of the rich history and culture of Romania and sheds light on the many mythological stories of the villages nearby. You can also learn about the beloved Queen Marie and her life at her home, Bran Castle.
A. Bran Castle was first constructed in 1388 but has undergone many renovations over time.
A. Bran Castle was first built to act as a vantage point against incoming invasions. Since it was also on the border of Wallachia, it also functioned as a customs office and collected taxes from anyone passing through.
A. Today, Bran Castle functions as a museum that displays King Ferdinand and Queen Marie’s belongings while shedding light on the ancient mythological stories of Romania.
A. Bran Castle is located in Strada General Traian Moșoiu 24, Bran 507025, Romania. Find it on Maps
A. Yes, there are guided tours available for Bran Castle. You can book your Bran Castle guided tour tickets here.
A. You can skip the long ticket lines by simply booking skip-the-line tickets to Bran Castle. Book them here.
A. Bran Castle is open every day from 9 AM to 6 PM except Mondays. On Mondays, the timings are from 12 PM to 6 PM. Detailed Bran Castle timings
A. It is recommended that you set aside at least 45-60 minutes to make the best of your visit to Bran Castle.
A. Unfortunately, Bran Castle is not wheelchair accessible. However, you can visit its royal gardens in a wheelchair.